What Size Tank Do Axolotl Need? Tank 101

Axolotl are cute and friendly amphibians from the salamander family that make excellent exotic aquarium pets. Active and curious creatures, they also have a distinctive appearance, so watching them grow and thrive is a rewarding experience. But in order to thrive, your new pet needs the right habitat. This all starts with the right axolotl tank size.

Axolotl usually live around 10 years in captivity when cared for properly, but they can live as long as 20 years in the right conditions.

So, what size tank should you invest in? Read on as we take a detailed look at what tank size is best depending on the size and age of your axolotl. This article will also look at necessary tank conditions to create a habitat in which your amphibious friend will thrive! 

What Size Tank Do Axolotl Need?

Most axolotl in captivity will grow to between 10-12 inches from nose to tip. Despite their relatively modest size, they need a pretty large tank. An adult axolotl should be kept in a tank that is a minimum of 20 gallons, and will be happier in a much larger tank, around the 40-gallon mark.

Why do they need such a large tank? First, they are highly active, so they enjoy having lots of space to swim around, and they are also curious, so they appreciate places for hides and other features. 

The other major factor is that they both produce a lot of waste, and they are highly sensitive to the quality of their water because their skin is permeable. This means they need a good filtration system, but a higher water volume will also reduce the impact of ammonia and nitrates in the water.

You can get away with a smaller tank for juveniles, though even infants should have a tank that is at least 10 gallons. But investing in a smaller tank can be a false savings as you will soon need to upgrade as they reach full size at between 18 and 24 months. 

It’s also a myth that juveniles become stressed if their tank is too large. But if you do have a smaller tank, you can use it as a temporary home for your axolotl when you’re cleaning their tank, which you should do every couple of months.

It’s not advisable to keep two axolotls together in the same tank as they can get violent with one another. If you do have multiple axolotls, though, keep no more than two in the same tank and make sure you get them when they are around the same age and size. If one is much larger than the other, they’re much more likely to eat and kill their tank mate. Two axolotls together will both need lots of personal space, so you’ll need a tank at least 55-75 gallons in size.

Axolotl Tank Recommendations

If you’re looking for a high-quality tank for your axolotl, the Sea Clear 40 Gallon Acrylic Aquarium is an excellent choice. This acrylic tank is clearer and stronger than glass, meaning that chips are less likely and you get a better view of your swimming buddy. 

This particular tank is 36 by 15 by 16 inches, which offers a nice big footprint, which is important since axolotl tend to prefer to stay near the bottom of their tank rather than swim up and down. While this quality tank is not overpriced, it does have a $360 price tag.

If you’re looking for something more affordable, consider the smaller Tetra Glass Aquarium 29 Gallons. While it is not a full 40 gallons, the 30- by 12- by 18-inch dimensions offers a good amount of space for your buddy. You can currently get this tank for just $125.

You can discover some cool and interesting facts about axolotl here.

Axolotl Tank Conditions

While your axolotl needs a tank that is the right size, they also need the right tank conditions to thrive.


This starts with a good filtration system. As we have already mentioned, axolotl tend to produce a lot of waste, and since their skin is permeable, they are also very sensitive to impurities in their water. This means you need a good quality filter that is constantly cleaning and removing impurities.

Canister filters are best as they are powerful enough to keep the tank clean, and a low-flow filter is also a good voice since axolotls prefer their water to be calm and tranquil.

Probably one of the best models for the job is the Amosijoy Canister Filter, which is heavy duty but ultra quiet and you can choose the best water flow level. But it is a big machine, 10 by 8 by 16.7 inches, that will need to sit on the floor alongside your tank. It costs around $100, but it should last a long time.

If you want something smaller and more affordable, consider the AquaClear 50 Power Filter, which sits on the side of the tank. It costs around $25. It’s an effective filter for a large tank, but you will need to clean the filter every two weeks. 

As well as filtering, you’ll need to change 20-30% of your axolotl’s water on a weekly basis. This allows you to add clean water without completely disrupting their habitat. This is important since water changing is the most dangerous time for most aquatic pets as the sudden change in any element of their living conditions can lead to illnesses that strike quickly.


The state of the water in the tank is also very important. Axolotl need water temperatures between 60 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5-17.7 degree Celsius) to match their conditions in the wild. In most cases, this means that an aquarium needs a water cooling system rather than heating, but you will need to use a thermometer to monitor temperatures.

Basic cooling systems are just fans designed to sit close to the water so they penetrate the surface and cool the water quickly. One of the best choices on the market is the Hygger Aquarium Chiller Fans, which are a combination of three adjustable fans that can be clipped to the tank and have various wind settings. There is also a timer that makes it easier to control temperatures when you aren’t around. Be aware that it only comes with a one-year warranty.

Water Composition

Hopefully, you are already aware that you can’t just put tap water in your aquatic animal’s tank. That water will likely be too hard and too alkaline for your marine pet. Water needs to be treated before being added to the tank and you should also monitor the water to ensure that it maintains the right pH balance and hardness.

While most tap water has a pH balance of 6.5-8.5, axolotls need a lower pH of around 6.5-7.5. While there are lots of chemicals you can use to adjust the pH, adding a few features to the water can naturally adjust the pH. For example, you can raise the pH by adding crushed coral, limestone, petrified coral, and shells as features in your tank environment. You can lower the pH by adding driftwood or peat moss, and you can also filter with peat moss.

When it comes to water hardness, you need something around 7-8 dKH. Hardness is a measure of the concentration of the carbonate and bicarbonate in the water, and this reflects the water’s ability to neutralize acids without significantly changing the pH of the water.

You can measure both the pH and the hardness of your tank water with aquarium tester kits such as the SJ Wave 7 in 1 Aquarium Testing Kit.

Other Items

The curious axolotl won’t thrive in a bare tank; they need things to explore and do! Your tank setup should start with the substrate. Material matters because axolotl tend to spend most of their time moving around the bottom of their tank, and they also have sensitive skin that can easily be cut by anything sharp.

The best substrate is often sand or rounded stones with no sharp edges and that are too large for your axolotl to accidentally swallow.

Axolotl will also appreciate plants in their tank, and you can go for real or plastic. While real plants feel better, they often need a lot of light to thrive. But axolotls don’t need artificial lights. In fact, they have sensitive eyes, and harsh lights can cause them discomfort. So plastic plants can be a reasonable compromise. Choose floating plants rather than plants that need to be planted in the substrate, because your axolotl will dig them up!

Hides and things they can swim over, under, and through will also appeal to your axolotl. Choose materials that will support the pH balance you want in your tank, whether that means shells or driftwood features.

Axolotl Tank FAQs

Can an axolotl live in a 10-gallon tank?

While your axolotl might survive in a 10-gallon tank, they won’t thrive, as they are curious and active and they appreciate having space to move around. 

Also, it might put their health at risk since axolotl produce a lot of waste, and they are also highly sensitive to the presence of waste products in their water. When they are in a low-volume tank, the waste is concentrated in the water and you’ll need to invest in a powerful filter and clean the tank very regularly.

Can axolotls go in fish tanks?

Fish tanks are a great choice when you’re looking for a tank to create a habitat for your axolotl. But don’t put your axolotl in your fish tank with other fish. In the wild, they eat smaller fish and aquatic animals, so they will probably eat your other fish too.

Are axolotls easy to care for?

Once you have your tank with a filter set up and you know how to prepare their water, an axolotl is relatively easy to care for. They only need to eat twice a week, so you can leave them alone for quite a while. But don’t leave them for too long because their tank can become dirty quickly and this can compromise their health. Solid waste should be removed as often as is feasible, and a good filter should be used to keep water clean as well as replacing 20-30% of the water on a weekly basis.

Prepare Your Axolotl Tank

The most important thing to consider before bringing an axolotl home is preparing the right habitat for them. This starts with getting them a tank that is the right size. 

In the case of axolotl, bigger tends to be better. This is because they are active and curious and therefore appreciate the space, but also because they produce lots of waste and are highly sensitive to the ammonia and nitrates they leave behind in the water. A high volume of water lowers the density of these elements.

So, if you have the space and the budget, be generous with your axolotl and get them a tank that is at least 40 gallons in size. If you don’t have space, then consider 20 gallons the minimum size required for an axolotl.

You may be thinking that you are likely to spend more on setting up your tank than buying your axolotl, and you would be right. Read our complete guide to how much it costs to buy and take care of an axolotl here.

Leave a Comment